Now that baseball season is over, it's time to enjoy the holiday season by turning on the infamous Hot Stove. While we wait for the epic main course that is MLB free agency, let us enjoy a fine appetizer of some trade rumors that could really cause the balances of power to shift within both leagues. Every team out there has a need and this winter, some may stop at nothing to fill it.
One name that's sure to be tossed around is that of Justin Upton. After an off season in 2012, it's perfectly possible that Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers could look to deal him for a package of prospects that would help the team in the long run. However, would it be worth the cost of his best player?
No matter how you look at it, this is a time that sees a lot of MLB GMs pull off some epic trades and this year, some high-profile players are on the table. If any of these rumored deals are pursued, the final standings are going to look a lot different next season.
The Tampa Bay Rays are a small-market team with barely any money, which means that they're better off trading some of their best young players rather than risk losing them to free agency and getting practically nothing in return. Thus, one man on the team who is sure to draw some interest is young right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
Still, Hellickson was named 2011 AL Rookie of the Year and clearly has a bright future ahead of him. He went 10-11 in his second full season, but posted a 3.10 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. On a team with a solid lineup that provides plenty of run support, his numbers could fare a lot better.
That said, don't necessarily bank on the Rays listening to offers for Hellickson to shift power in the league. He has plenty of talent in his right arm and should be using it for years to come.
According to Heyman, the Boston Red Sox have made an interesting announcement. While the team will not openly shop center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, they will "listen" to offers for their speedster.
Simply put, any team that acquires Ellsbury is going to get a lot better. Injuries limited him to 74 games in 2012 and a mere 18 in 2010, but look at his 2011 season. The man finished second in AL MVP voting after batting .321 with 32 homers, 105 RBI and 39 steals.
If Boston gets an offer they can't refuse and Ellsbury is traded, then whichever team lands him is instantly going to become a lot stronger. The man brings a lot of great skills to the table, and while he may be a roll of the dice for teams in the hunt for outfield depth, he still has the ability to do great work with the bat and on the basepaths wherever he plays.
Even though Tommy John surgery kept him out for all of 2012, Soria is still a very popular target for teams in need of bullpen help. According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, one team may have a distinct advantage. If this is true, the balance of power in the American League will instantly be shifted.
You see, Soria's agent Oscar Suarez has already stated that if the New York Yankees call his client, that the two will be "all ears." Long story short, Soria would be willing to set up incumbent closer Mariano Rivera just for the opportunity to play in pinstripes. This is the perfect situation for the Yankees, who are almost definitely about to lose Rafael Soriano to free agency.
Soria has 160 saves in five MLB seasons, is only 28 and will probably come cheap because of his injury.
More importantly, if Rivera is unable to come back from his ACL injury, Soria gives the Yankees another shutdown closer by May or June, at the earliest.
Thus, Cashman should make the call maybe...now?
As was mentioned earlier, Upton had an off year in 2012 and has been the subject of trade rumors since July. Last season, the 25-year-old batted .280 with 17 homers, 67 RBI and 18 steals. Those were all down from .289, 31 homers and 88 RBI with 21 steals in 2011.
That said, the small-market Diamondbacks could look to trade their multi-talented outfielder for a package of top prospects and MLB players. According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are expected to be in the mix for Upton as they look to rebuild their outfield.
Simply put, Upton is a borderline perfect fit for Boston. He may strike out a bit too much for the AL, but his power is perfect for the short porches on both ends of Fenway Park. If he can find a way to get the ball into the gap, he could see himself among the season's leaders in triples and/or extra base hits.
If Silverman's prediction turns out to be true and Boston does acquire Upton, then the Red Sox will lose a lot less than the 93 game they dropped last season.
The third overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bauer made his much anticipated MLB debut last summer. Needless to say, his stop on the major league level was underwhelming. In four starts, Bauer went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, striking out 17 batters in 16.1 innings.
Be it for his attitude or his slow start on the MLB level, Arizona could be making a horrible mistake by dealing Bauer to another team. Keep in mind, this is a man who made 22 starts in the minors last season and went 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, striking out 157 batters in 130.1 innings. Over 156 minor league innings, Bauer has an astounding 200 strikeouts.
Long story short, the Diamondbacks simply must reconsider the idea of trading their best pitching prospect. Bauer is someone special and if he is dealt away for an A-list player or package of prospects, or both, whichever team lands him is going to have one dangerous pitching rotation.
If it is a team that faces Arizona regularly, then it's going to be a long season in the desert.